One of the most valuable assets you will have in the real estate business is your database or CRM (Customer Relationship Management System). The tragic reality of the industry is that only 30% of agents use any CRM. Helps to explain why only 21% of the industry exceed $100,000 in annual income.
If you can organize your contacts into a central spot early in your career, you will undoubtedly make more money and have a more consistent stream of income over the course of your career. Consider these numbers: people on average move about once every ten years. If you have 100 people in your database that you maintain a connection with, 10 of those people will move every year. In other words, you should be getting about 10% conversion from your database.
If you are without a database, or it’s poorly organized, this post will guide you through the how-to’s of making a database work for you, how to organize it, how to grow it, and how to get the most out of it.
- The HUB Method – getting rid of the fragmentation
- Selecting a CRM
- Growing a Database
- Organizing Contacts
The most important first step is to decide on your Hub or CRM. We’ll cover how to select the CRM below, but what you choose as your Hub is less important than the understanding of HOW to embrace the Hub Method and WHY.
One of the most heartbreaking moments I have had in coaching is with an experienced agent that never embraced a Hub Method for managing their contacts. Instead they have lived with fragmentation and built upon it. They may have some contacts in their phone, some in an old database, some in their email, some in an excel spreadsheet and some in some paper files somewhere. As soon as the file is lost, or the phone dies, or the computer gets a virus and the data is gone … the agent has lost some large fragment of their customer base. This is an expensive lesson.
Trying to organize contacts after years of fragmentation is no small undertaking. And during the years of fragmented organization, it’s not uncommon to find that the ability to follow up, communicate with, or market to these past clients and sphere has been greatly compromised, costing the agents tens of thousands of dollars.
Client acquisition is the name of the game in this business. Part of your long term success is taking care of that client over time so that they are a source of repeat and referral business. Instead of capitalizing on these relationships, the seasoned agent is still continually in client acquisition when operating from a fragmented database.
The HUB Method
The Hub Method us simply a matter of making a decision about the central location for your contacts. If you meet someone at an open house, before you create an auto drip in the MLS, before you add them to the Greenhouse, or anywhere at all, they go into your Hub first.
With that decision made, contacts can be imported and exported at any time and into any marketing channel. But, they always go into your Hub first. By making that decision and staying committed to that work flow, you will build a robust, dynamic and highly profitable database of personal contacts and past clients.
Selecting a CRM
When deciding on a hub, I often hear the question come up, “What CRM system is the best?” The number of vendors providing a real estate CRM solution is endless. Tons and tons of choices. The real answer is … the one you will use.
There are expensive services with lots of bells and whistles – Top Producer comes to mind – but you may find that you don’t need all of those features. Unless you embrace the space and really live in it, you likely won’t use it.
One of the most likely spaces that you will use is the email you already live it. Whether it’s your professional Gary Greene email, or your Google Apps email account, you are likely already living in that space daily. You are in there for your email and your calendar, it would make sense to make this your hub for your contact management.
Can The Greenhouse Be My Hub?
The short answer is, ‘no’. The Greenhouse has wonderful tools in it, but it isn’t a CRM that would make a good hub. In actuality, The Greenhouse is made up of two systems; one is Xpress Docs for mailed/print marketing and the other is Market Leader or the Digital Marketing Center. With two points of enter for contacts, we see fragmentation making The Greenhouse excellent for marketing, but not for a Hub.
Growing a Database
If you are new, or haven’t done a great job at building your database, you may feel initially discouraged about the number of people you have in your database. Simply set a goal to enter ‘x’ number of people into your database per week. For example, say you decide to add 2 new people a week to your database. In one year you will have 104 new people in your database. That’s a great foundation in which to grow!
How do I meet people to add to my database? Open house, opportunity time, expired listings, for sale by owners, or your social contacts. Need to find more opportunities to meet people socially? Try Meetup.com. Join a book club, a bible study, a hiking club.
Organizing your Contacts
In addition to making sure you have the updated email, address and phone number for you contacts, it’s crucial to group them in such a way that you can create marketing and follow up methods to speak to your intended audience. Here are some suggestions for Contact Types:
Sphere of Influence
The Woodlands (Send them Ken’s Market Report monthly)
Out of Area Resident (Send them a letter twice a year for potential referrals)
Add to Greenhouse (Easily grow your marketing list in the Greenhouse)
Local Realtors & Affiliates
Investors (When you come across those great opportunities)
Top 25 (This is your VIP list)
Niche Group (Church Group, PTA, Book Club)
There are certainly others, but my suggestion is to keep it as simple as you can. There’s no need to get crazy with complicated contact types. Make it easy on yourself.
Ask For Help
The great news is that staff is here to help you with your contacts. Set an appointment with me to get organized. We’ll upload contacts into the Greenhouse for you, and send out marketing for you. Set it and forget it. Put us to work for you and win more.